The Government IT Self-Harm Playbook
Dan Sheldon
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Well, as a DevOps engineer who has made a mission of promoting and writing open source infrastructure code for electronic democracy I was kind of hurt by seeing my title there. But you’re right about how DevOps is being thrown around as a name for managed infrastructure, cloudwash, and the rest. In my day job I work with enterprise clients trying to make their infrastructure more resilient, debuggable, and repeatable. The only way to do it for real is by owning a team with the skills to build and maintain encoded infrastructure.

I see an opportunity for government to incubate great cloud technologies and design patterns: the cost constraints are extreme, the core employees are (in the US at least) are union or have great job security, the domain knowledge is critical. Yet I feel like I’m howling into the wind when I talk about the obvious benefits of training government IT employees in modern technologies. Our people, the people currently working in government IT, are the solution to government IT problems provided they have the support and resources they need. We could hire no better than the citizens who currently do the work — for the explicit reason that they have chosen to do the work and they are citizens. The real shame in all the schemes for improving government IT with cloud services is that they don’t involve training, education, and knowledge transfer to build a modern corps of cloud engineers working for government.

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